1. Joseph Telushkin and David Gregory at the Sixth and I Street Historic Synagogue conversing on the relationship between Jewish ethics and the election campaign. I must say that, while Rabbi Telushkin had some contributions to be made on the subject, Gregory stole the show, coming across not as a pure journalist but as someone deeply concerned about ethical choices, someone who in practicing his very public profession thinks carefully about the ethics of what he is doing, and someone who is involved in the serious study of many things Jewish. I had a hard time separating Telushkin’s personal opinions as to certain situations, as opposed to the application of Jewish traditional teaching with regard to those situations, and I thought his responses (if not his allusions) would have been the same had he been a Catholic priest or a Protestant minister. I am not sure that is a criticism, but that is the way I heard things. It may be that you really can’t decide whether, for example, the sexual activities of an otherwise attractive politician should be taken into account when judging that politician’s professional activities. Telushkin’s question/example was “Would you rather have your surgery done by a successful surgeon who is a jerk, or a poor surgeon who is a mensch?” I am not sure that analogy holds.
2. Educators Norman Shore and Naomi Rosenblatt speaking at Theater J on “David in Shadow and Light”, talking about the complexity of the David story and the many Davids that exist. Friend David B. in the audience criticizing the story line for leaving out much of the political story which he believed necessary for context. The playwright, in the audience, responding that you have to make choices and his story was about “love”, not politics. Hannah moderating.
3. Elvira/Lou Gilliam’s 90th birthday party at the Fountaine Bleu in Lanham. And a good time was had by all.
4. The annual meeting of Adas Israel, which, as opposed to many years when there were matters of controversy discussed, was a feel-good evening, with intelligent people saying intelligent things, and everyone in good and friendly spirits.
5. Dinners at Kaylana Thai and Nam Viet Pho restaurants, where the food was good, but not as good as it has been in the past.
6. An evening with the group planning a Heritage Trail for the H Street NE area, where E’s mother grew up, and her grandfather had a neighborhood grocery store. Interesting to hear the different perspective of this working class commerical/residential district that served so many different groups until it was virtually destroyed during the 1968 Martin Luther King riots. Especially amusing were the stories told by local television news personality Pat Collins, who grew up in the area, where his father was a well loved doctor. Especially interesting was the story that Collins told about when he interviewed a man who, on the yarzeit of his dog’s death every year bet his dog’s tag number on the lottery and never won. He told Collins the story, Collins bet the number and won $10,000. (Several years ago, when the Powerball jackpot was at an all time high, and my firm’s entire staff was in the ticket line at the liquor store on the first floor of our building, and I, the nongambler, was up in my office and Collins burst in with a camera man, with the camera running and Collins saying that he was in the law office that bore my name and everyone was buying Powerball tickets but me. He then asked me on camera: “What are you going to do when they win and don’t show up to work in the morning?”)